the smell of his neck

The second he got to third gear you’d lean over and kiss his neck. He smelled of Old Spice. His neck could bring you undone. His grin was a child’s except for the twisted teeth, one discoloured even then. If you stopped he’d say More More. Child again. He drove his parents’ Morris Minor estate, sage green. You were still at school. On Sundays he’d drive you to the common where the elderberries were ready to pick or Weston-Super-Mare out of season. There was an old army blanket in the back.

This was the routine. Kiss, lick, nuzzle. Open glovebox. Look for evidence. He’d feign shock but love the audacity of it. Once you found the Mason’s handbook and read about Solomon’s Temple and he tells you he’s stolen it from his father’s leather envelope where the secrets are stored. You giggle together when you imagine your serious fathers with their badgery eyebrows, left breasts bared, trousers rolled up to the knee, noose somewhere, memorising the chant; Anglican Proddie Ooogie Boogie Mumbo Jumbo.

In the pub it’s Babycham for you, a beer for him, warm and flat. Later you will choose a ring from an antique shop, rose cut diamond with EL and GH engraved inside. Who were they and what happened to them?

In the city one Saturday there’s a Mcalls pattern that’s just right, Guinevere style with a stiff high collar, long sleeves, primrose voile with tiny white polkadots. He tells you what the house will be like. A stone cottage by a river. And that you will have one son. You realise you’ve never dreamed awake or asleep about such things. You dream about the woman who brings you leather bound books, sometimes the tide comes in too fast.

The vicar of the church by the river asks you why you are doing this. The men are doing all the talking while you find yourself floating somewhere above the altar and into the stained glass window, the richness of blue and the folds in the cloak spiriting you further and further away.

First published in Flash, UK. 2012

church

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